Hillsborough papers: Key excerpts
- 13 September 2012
- From the section UK
Papers which reveal evidence of failures and deceit over the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground have been released to the public for the first time.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel spent 18 months looking through more than 450,000 pages of documents relating to the fatal crush on 15 April 1989, which resulted in the deaths of 96 people.
The documents included cabinet minutes as well as evidence from public bodies such as the South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield City Council, the South Yorkshire coroner and the fire and ambulance services.
In its report, the panel said it uncovered new evidence detailing crowd safety deficiencies at the ground, shortcomings in the emergency services response, failures of leadership and co-ordination and widespread alteration of police statements in an attempt to blame the Liverpool fans for what happened.
Below are excerpts from some of the previously unreleased papers.
Statement from police officer on duty at Hillsborough
PC Brian Huckstepp was on duty at the ground on the day of the disaster. His original statement criticised the way police handled the tragedy - but his comments were removed before being submitted to Lord Taylor's 1989 inquiry. A letter from the panel set up to scrutinise the evidence said it was aware officers had been put under pressure to amend their statements. The critical paragraph is reproduced below.
Statements by a number of other police officers at the scene were also edited. Some were told that alterations were made to exclude personal opinion and to leave the document as a factual report.
Comments by a PC S Smith describing "a situation of almost total panic," among senior officers were among those edited.
The officer's potentially infammatory comments comparing the tragedy to the Hyesel Stadium disaster and blaming the deaths of innocent people on Liverpool fans were also removed.
A PC Michael Walpole had included comments in his statement about the lack of organisation or radio messages to officers on the ground. These were also removed for the final draft.
When asked about the deleted paragraphs in 1998, PC Walpole said he was suffering post traumatic stress and depression and agreed to the deletions.
Sun story "The Truth" based on MP's account
A headline story in The Sun newspaper which blamed the disaster at Hillsborough on drunken fans was based on a local news agency report of a conversation with the then MP for Sheffield Hallam Irvine Patnick and a senior police officer. The story caused outrage on Merseyside. The then editor Kelvin Mackenzie has now apologised for the story. This is part of Mr Patnick's notes of his conversation with police which was submitted to the Taylor inquiry as evidence.
Letter complaining about overcrowding in 1988
This letter from a spectator at a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough ground in 1988 was sent to the Football Association and the Minister of Sport Colin Moynihan. It raises concerns about severe overcrowding - a year before the disaster.
Stand capacity was too high
This letter from the Acting Assistant Chief Constable of Operations at South Yorkshire Police raises concerns about the stand capacity at the Hillsborough ground. He points out that plans used to calculate a safe limit were inaccurate.
Senior ambulance officer criticised access for ambulances
A senior ambulance officer who attended the emergency at Hillsborough had parts of his statement amended. Criticism of the access for emergency vehicles was deleted and his request for more ambulances, because there were lots of casualties, was also crossed out.